Thursday, February 11, 2010

Tonaki Island

Today was a national holiday that unfortunately didn't fall on a Monday or a Friday. Since all the teachers were stuck on the island, they put together a trip to another island some 30km (20mi.) away.

We hired two boats to take us and I was on the sail boat for the outbound trip.

I thought it was cute how my tiny friend Emina made this bench work for a nap. When she woke up I asked her why she didn't just take the extra space on the bed where I slept. She explained that in the captain's pre-departure speech, he said we could sleep in the port berths, but the starboard berths were set up for guests who are coming in tonight. Guess which side I was on?

[They grow seaweed on wide-webbed nets strung between those stakes!]

Tonaki was sort of a treacherous island and I couldn't help but think how different my life would be if I had been placed there instead of Zamami. Marathon training would be miserable.

There was this awesome [free] museum [that prohibited photography] about Tonaki. They even had a half-excavated skeleton! It was here that I started to realize that Tonaki has done a better job than Zamami at appealing to tourists (even though I'm sure our annual tourism numbers dwarf theirs).

All of the road/pathways were immaculately clean. ALL of them. It was such a clean village both in terms of what was seen on the ground, but also in straight corners and well-kept households. Zamami looks like a decrepit ghost town (with people) compared to this place. Tonaki's village was utterly beautiful. Also, they had nearly all of their paths lined with those tall, leafy trees for shade during the hot months. A brilliant idea implemented many years ago and everybody is reaping the benefits now.

[Cleaning every Mon/Wed/Fri at 6:30am. Rakes provided. (No wonder this place is so clean!)]

Most all of the houses in the village were traditional Okinawan style and in good shape. This picture shows four in a row. Those roofs are a unique element of an Okinawan house; another is that all the interior walls are made with nice, exposed wood.

While my time in Tonaki was interesting, the excitement of the boat ride home eclipsed the whole day on the island. See tomorrow's post.


Mom said...

Do you know what the population is? Do they have a JET assigned there?

Wren said...

I love the picture of Emina!

Dave said...

The population is around 600, I think. And it does have a JET, making it the only JET inhabited island with less residents than Zamami. I didn't see him while I was there, but apparently some other teachers did.
The pluses to being there would be the beautiful village (though that novelty might wear off quickly) and apparently the GT fishing is better. Minuses: marathon training would take some serious discipline b/c there is only one road and it's either going up a mountain or down the other side. Also, getting to and from Naha from Tonaki for a weekend is not easy.

Anonymous said...

Oh, I find you Dave.
You are in a street mirror holding your camera.
Were you thinking how to shot that scene? Yeah, that photo is very nice!
I like it very much!!

Jpnese fan

Son of Higashi said...

Don`t forget Kitadaito, with around 300 residents, and just as many kilometers east of the mainland.

Dave said...

I just checked Wikipedia and it says 584 for Kita, so you're right! Zamami has the second-least number of residents for a JET-inhabited island in Okinawa. Would love to know the stats on other islands in Japan, if only to know WHERE JETs are placed.. I bet there's some interesting Hokkaido placements.